Unified Communications: As-a-Service vs. On Premises – What’s Best for You?

Unified communications (UC) has steadily gained acceptance over the years with enterprises of all sizes as a means of increasing productivity in competitive business environments. Most are familiar with the typical “on-premise” deployment model, with UC applications running on servers in the user’s data centers. Consistent with the trend of the migration of services (voice, infrastructure, storage, etc.) to a cloud-hosted environment, UC is no exception.

One of the more recent drivers of UC towards the cloud has been the proliferation of the different types of mobile devices that users use to stay in touch. Today’s employees may receive a call on their office phone and a copy of that voice mail via email, which they can retrieve either at their desk or via a smart device, perhaps using a mobile phone to return the call while also checking more email on a tablet or laptop. The average employee is now carrying an estimated 2.9 mobile communication devices, both company supplied as well as personal. The user expectation is to have their communications “unified” across all of their devices. The business challenge for the enterprise is to manage this element of unified communications (sometimes termed Mobility) towards corporate policies that include aspects such as security and legal/regulatory requirements. The Bring Your Own Device (or BYOD) scenario, where users are using personal devices for business communications, complicates things further.

This is the challenge that UC effectively resolves. Many companies are finding it more convenient and less complex from a management perspective, and more cost effective to align their UC needs with a cloud-hosted environment.

Does that mean that the on-premises investments are now dinosaurs and must be replaced?

Actually, no.

Organizations can choose to run UC by using both a platform in the cloud as well as an on-premises solution. There are multiple benefits associated with this hybrid approach, including:

  • Best of Both Worlds – The benefit of having a hybrid solution allows companies already invested in UC to keep and maintain that solution at their headquarters while running a cloud-based solution for mobile offices and remote workers, for example.
  • Redundancy Made Easy – With UC as a Service (UCaaS) as part of the enterprise communications and messaging strategy, you have the redundancy required to make rapid adjustments, say in case of a major weather event or other catastrophe.
  • Increased Efficiency in Dealing with a Remote Workforce – The integration of enterprise communications with complex business systems allows for a true solution based on open architecture.

Of course, the ability to add UCaaS to an existing UC solution provides business benefits as well. For example, having the benefits of cloud-based software, such as decreased operational costs, coupled with the ability to keep and maintain existing UC solutions, adds even most cost savings. Other benefits include:

  • Removal of front-loaded capital expenses
  • Dependable service experience and business continuity
  • Increased number of services, including integration of business applications

Best of Both Worlds

While not limited to one type of organization, UCaaS is ideal for organizations that have large numbers of remote or mobile employees, particularly when addressing BYOD concerns and providing a unified user experience. The offices that already utilize a UC solution on premises may be amply served and the organization does not wish to make the switch.

Even more important is the ability to make adjustments quickly. The need to adjust to a changing workforce is one environmental impact. Another is crisis scenarios such as major weather events. In these cases, there is little to no warning, causing a challenge for those offices without a flexible UC solution. This is where a hybrid approach really makes sense. Practically at the flip of a switch, you can ensure customers are still served regardless of the ability for employees to get to the office.

Simplifying communication and collaboration is the hallmark of UC and UCaaS. The good news is you don’t have to choose. A hybrid solution in which you get the best of both worlds might be the answer for your organization.

Check out this guide choosing a UC solution.

Making the Move to Software Based Communications

Software-based voice and unified communications (UC) is one of the biggest trends in IT today. The ability for voice and PBX functions to be purely software-based, residing on off-the-shelf servers, has opened a new world of possibilities when it comes to virtualization, portability, business continuity and disaster recovery. It also benefits end users by providing a common user experience across multiple devices, ensuring the look and feel of the UC app on your PC is the same as your smartphone and tablet. This ease of use greatly enhances your organization’s mobility strategy by simplifying end user training and increasing adoption. It also complements the undeniable BYOD trend as end users can visit an app store to download a mobile version of their desk phone and UC app to their smartphone or table.

Whether it’s traditional PBX features such as voice, voicemail, unified messaging, presence, call recording, or a combination of them all, software-based communications gives you the management interface that combines the tools you need and makes it easy to manage and deploy. With software-based communications, you have a single application that makes upgrading and ongoing maintenance easy and seamless. With the portability to move in or outside of your network through on-premises, cloud, or hybrid deployment, you can feel secure with the complete business continuity that software-based communications offers.

If your biggest concern is finding the capital to fund this venture, the good news is there are financing options to consider to ensure you’re still able to reap the benefits without breaking your budget. Your best bet in leveraging financing is to shift your technology upgrades from your Capital budget to your Operating budget. This is where your technology financing partner plays a very important role. With budget concerns, a partner who offers varying lease options may work best. For example, taking advantage of a zero percent lease option will allow you to obtain the technology upgrades you need now at a rate that falls well below what you’re currently spending for maintenance now.

Watch the video below to see Drew Beckmann, from NEC Corporation of America, discuss how software-based communications can be deployed on-premises or as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). He addresses a number of additional benefits and discusses security concerns with this type of application.

Have you made the move to software-based communications? Tell us how in the comments below.

NEC Demonstrating OpenFlow Quantum Plug-in for OpenStack at Red Hat Summit

This week at the Red Hat Summit in Boston, NEC will be demonstrating an OpenFlow Quantum plug-in for OpenStack. This plug-in, when combined with NEC’s ProgrammableFlow® SDN Controller, brings an OpenFlow-enabled partner ecosystem to the Cloud, unifies OpenStack and OpenFlow networking models and seamlessly integrates with OpenStack’s existing network management capabilities. Whereas OpenStack provides the platform to manage compute virtualization, NEC’s ProgrammableFlow SDN product suite provides end-to-end OpenFlow orchestration, multi-tenancy and complete virtualization of the network layer while enforcing isolation between logical network tenants.

Width = 300px Height = 477pxnec redhat summit2013

If you’re planning to attend the Red Hat Summit, please visit NEC at Booth 17 in the OpenStack Partner Pavilion. Hope to see you there!

What to know more about SDN?  Watch the video below:

Width = 640px Height = 360px

 

 

 

 

 

CapEx vs. OpEx: How Can IT and Finance Work Together?

Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) work with two distinct budget planning methods in mind:   capital expenditures (CapEx) and operating expenses (OpEx).     A study by Gartner and the Financial Executives Research Foundation reports that “The CFO is increasingly becoming the top technology investment decision-maker in many organizations.”   In nearly 500 enterprises surveyed, 42 percent of all CIOs report to the CFO, and in three out of four companies, the CFO has a major hand in all IT spending.

While the CFO and the financial organization ensure the business health of a corporation, the CIO and IT organization understand the technological needs and challenges and, in turn, devise solutions to address those challenges.  More often than not, those solutions include resources in the form of people, time or money.  Working in conjunction with one another, the CFO and CIO must oftentimes find ways to do more with less.  They’re being asked to support more devises and more applications on a network that can support more users.  When we as IT organizations are recommending a capital outlay, we will likely receive pushback because of the divot in a balance sheet.

While it is common to stretch budget by shifting capital expenses to operating expenses, it is beneficial to first understand the differences between the two.  Capital expenses are long-term investments, while OpEx financing models allow many organizations to leverage all the benefits of predictable monthly payments traditionally found in hosted solutions in an on-premises solution. For many, this can be the best of both worlds: a service-oriented model found with a hosted solution with none of the concerns some organizations may have with security and availability of a hosted service. What’s more, a $25,000 on-premises collaboration and audio conferencing solution may be a difficult solution to get approved, however, an on-premises solution with all of the capabilities of hosted for less than $400.00 per month can be a powerful internal conversation. Are you more comfortable paying out a lump sum or breaking payments down into a monthly scale? Regardless of where your preference lies, there is a financing option for you.

However, if we can shift thinking from all solutions being a capital expenditure to the integration of operating expenditures, we can realize efficiencies not only within the organization, but also perhaps a better response from finance. Operating expenses for solutions not only spread out costs on a monthly basis, but they also realize value each month as opposed to the depreciation of a capital expense. In addition to justifying costs, you must calculate the opportunity cost – the cost of doing nothing – to your organization. Are you losing things that provide value – employees, satisfaction or even customers?

Have you switched to an opex model? What are other ways your IT organization works in harmony with finance?  Watch the video “NEC Capex vs. Opex”, as Mark Hebner, senior business development manager, discusses costs vs. the cost of doing nothing and how switching from CapEx to OpEx actually helps you realize value month-to-month.

 

 

Enterprise Connect: A Recap

Enterprise Connect gathered together the industry’s finest corporations, vendors, analysts and media to learn about the newest enterprise-focused communications and collaboration technology and the best approaches for implementation. Not only did we meet with analysts to gather insight, we met with partners and other industry experts to discuss the current landscape and what each of us as leaders could do to propel the industry forward.

Role- and Location-Based Demonstrations

Throughout the session, both channel partners and end customers visited booth #1200 to learn how NEC products such as UNIVERGE 3Cand UNIVERGE Cloud Services UCaaSare utilized within home, office and remote environments.

Enterprise_Connect_NEC_demo

A Toast to Innovation

To cap off day two at the conference, NEC celebrated its 50thanniversary in North America with an upscale soiree during the Tuesday evening booth crawl, replete with booth staff in black tie attire and a toast to celebrate 50 years of innovation.  While sipping champagne and sparkling water, attendees were able to enjoy NEC’s demos to the sounds of a harpist.

nec_50_years_america

Sessions

In sessions such as “Is UC Moving Towards A New Plateau or Towards a Cliff” and “Enabling the Nomadic Workforce” NEC’s Todd Landry discussed the factors that are affecting the ever-changing environment at today’s enterprises, such as mobility, on-demand collaboration, virtual workspaces and more. He addressed ways that companies can meet the needs of the various constituents among their workforces.

We also showcased the healthcare vertical through the market leaders’ presentation “UC Challenges in Healthcare,” and included ways healthcare companies can address the changes that are on the horizon through technology and innovative solutions.

Throughout the conference, we spoke in order to garner insights that will not only propel the industry forward, but also strengthen our channel program and provide results for our end customers. NEC’s forward-looking remarks during the sessions were well received, often sparking lively debate and opinions on how the enterprise network is evolving and the role of emerging technologies such as cloud solutions.

Overall, Enterprise Connect 2013 was an excellent opportunity to explore new ideas, share insights and look forward to future innovation in the communications and collaboration technology space.

To learn more about empowering your workforce visit: http://necam.com/empowered

nec_empowered_workforce